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Plumtree: Healy tops Beast

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Ireland's Cian Healy. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Ireland's Cian Healy. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Ireland's Cian Healy. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

IRELAND forwards coach John Plumtree rates Cian Healy as good as, maybe even better than Springbok loosehead Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira.

Over the course of the Six Nations, the New Zealander, formerly South African 2012 Coach of the Year at the Natal Sharks, has been careful not to put labels on his Irish internationals, mainly because he was just getting to know them.

The time is right to review a group of men Plumtree has grown to know for what they can do to implement his game plan.

And it all starts with physicality.

"Cian Healy is obviously a pretty special loose-head prop. He has immense strength and really impressed me," he said.

"When I was with the Sharks I had the 'Beast' and I was always pretty impressed with his physicality, but Cian is right up there and maybe past him (in) just his uncompromising attitude on the field towards his physicality – so he stood out for me."

UNUSUAL

If Healy is Plumtree's idea of his standout forward for the unusual gifts he brings to his position in the front row, line-out beacon Devin Toner has been a surprise package to him.

"Dev grew on me as the competition went on," he revealed.

"It was a luxury for me in my main job of organising that line-out to have a monster like that patrolling, whether it was at the back or the front, on our ball and the opposition's.

"That was a bonus and he really surprised me around the park with his physicality as well and his ball-carrying".

There were plaudits handed down to others too: "Paul (O'Connell) was outstanding just with his leadership and the way he ran the show in general. I was really happy with the whole pack.

"Jamie Heaslip had a great campaign and Peter O'Mahony played well, even though he had a bit of an injury problem around Italy. Also, too, I was really impressed with Rory Best.

"He really deserves a mention the way he drove that scrum and his physicality as well.

"I wouldn't like to label people world-class. We still have a long way to go but clearly there are some special individuals in our forward pack."


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